As someone who struggles to tell a joke in their native language, I feel entirely under-qualified to pass judgement on the whip-smart comedy of Yuriko Kotani.
A resident of the UK for 15 years now after emigrating from Japan, Kotani has a veritable treasure trove of anecdotes and culture clashes to draw upon in her Sumosumo show at The Attic in Pleasance Courtyard.
She does so with brilliant insight, drawing out the little details with relish, as unafraid to poke fun at her birthplace as she is her adopted home.
A neatly executed section on the differences in time-keeping between the British and the Japanese, and the origin of ‘Ish’, draws appreciative laughter.
A BBC New Comedy Award winner 2015, Kotani has plenty of pedigree and she does well not to fall into stereotypes or overdo the cultural comedy, expertly drawing down the barriers between performer and audience in a way many more experienced comics still struggle to do.
The laughs come steadily and well-measured, her slightly broken delivery perhaps killing a little momentum, but the jokes are so cleverly constructed that Kotani is capable of running rings round an audience without breaking sweat, effortlessly executing call-backs and bringin the characters to the forefront of her comedy.
One of seemingly dozens of Edinburgh Fringe newcomers hosted at The Pleasance throughout August, Kotani plays well to the samll audience in the aplty-named Attic venue, but you feel her talents are deserving of a wider crowd.
At a time of crisis in our national identity with our place in the world less certain than ever, Kotani’s comedy proves that no matter what may separate us, our ability to acknowledge, appreciate and laugh at them has, slowly but surely, the potential to bring us back together.
WHERE: Aug 8-11, 13-26
WHEN: The Pleasance Courtyard – The Attic